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Posted May 23, 2006

Book: Hands-On Environmentalism
Authors: Brent M. Haglund and Thomas W. Still
Encounter Books, San Francisco, CA. 2005. Pp. 192

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The political environmentalism of the past 35 years was born of necessity: business as usual was not protecting the air, water and land. Brent Haglund and Thomas Still believe that the regulatory actions of the 1960s and 1970s were essential medicine for a careless society. But over time, the cure became something of a disease itself, a command-and-control system that widened the gulf between people and the natural world they live in.

Writing for those who want to move past the environmental nanny state and reach the next level of stewardship, Haglund and Still describe a "civic environmentalism" based on local control, personal responsibility, government accountability and economic opportunity. They offer success stories demonstrating that civic environmentalism works. In Louisiana, private landowners formed the Black Bear Conservation Committee to restore the black bear from near extinction while avoiding an endangered species designation that would have constricted property rights. In Arizona, the White Mountain Apache tribe uses income from hunting licenses to fund an innovative wildlife management program that fosters economic development. In Wisconsin, the last dam was removed from the Baraboo River after the River Alliance brought landowners and governmental agencies together to promote change without polarizing lawsuits.

Hands-On Environmentalism shows how to find voluntary, enduring solutions to environmental problems apart from heavy-handed governmental intervention.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Participatory environmentalism is not really new. The writings of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton offer evidence that the founders intended for citizens to exercise their rights and to carry out their duties and responsibilities within the framework of a republic. The founders could not anticipate every problem, but they wrote a recipe for active citizenship that can cook up solutions to today's environmental problems.

Professor Marc Landy of Boston College sees Thomas Jefferson's thinking about the farm as a metaphor for today's movement to restore a sense of balance.

"Jefferson's farm provides a middle ground between beautiful but useless nature and corrupt urbanity. His farm is a product of intelligence and ingenuity, not simply a mystical bond with the soil. Yeoman farmers encouraged the moral characteristics that support democracy - patience, resourcefulness and love of order. The tasks of cultivation, shepherding and husbandry proclaim responsibility, thoughtfulness, dutifulness - the important traits of citizenship.

Table of Contents:

1. The environmental nanny
2. "Hand-on" environmentalism
3. Thomas Malthus, guru of gloom
4. From Malthus to Muir and Pinchot
5. Aldo Leopold and the origins of "Hands-On" environmentalism
6. The words we live by
7. "Do as I say" versus "Do as we do" environmentalism
8. How to get your hands dirty and your community clean
9. How to wrestle with a bear - and win
10. "Where there is no vision . . .
11. Back to school
12. Reservation conservation
13. Bravo!
14. It takes a village to raise a Rhino
15. Letting a river be a river
16. Going down to the sea in ships
17. Lessons learned
18. Kissing a toad
19. Where there's smoke, there's forest fire politics
20. Home on the range
21. Starting up
22. Thundering back from the brink